Xenobiology Xeno-life Publication date : February 14, 2018
Michel Cassé, astrophysicist at the CEA [The French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission] and at the Institut d’astrophysique de Paris, is the author of many popular books for the general reader (Du Vide et de la création; Les Trous noir en pleine lumière, among others)
Marie-Christine Maurel, professor at the Université Pierre et Marie Curie and at the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, is a specialist in the origins of life and of “molecular archeology.”
“Xenobiology” is the very recent emerging scientific study of forms of life created by synthetic biology. Because unusual molecules today are emerging from laboratories – artificial DNA, transmuted amino acids – out of which unheard-of creatures will perhaps emerge, as once happened 3 billion years ago on our planet.
Scientists are now replaying the historical scenario of emerging life, and all variations are open to them. The other biology they are exploring bluntly raises questions about the natural and the artificial. In the course of a fascinating dialogue, an astrophysicist here retraces the history of “our” life, the one we know on Earth and elsewhere (exobiology), whereas xenobiology is revealing the first results of research that unveils radically new forms of life, whose evolution is absolutely unpredictable.
This encounter with the origins of life challenges our conception of the living: what if we were only one form of life among many others? This might just pave the way to a surprising “xenophilosophy”…